Depression in children and teens and how you can help

Supporting kids begins with building awareness and understanding of the challenges this generation of youth may face. Depression is a common one among youth today. 

According to data from Mental Health America:

  • In Colorado, 15% of youth, or 65,000 reported experiencing one major depressive episode in 2022. 
  •  Over 60% of youth with depression are not receiving any mental health treatment. 
  • Most children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression.

Depression is a serious mental health problem that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. There are many possible causes of depression, including nerve cell connections and growth and functioning of nerve circuits in the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events. 

Many factors can cause tweens and teens to go through ups and downs. But for some teens, the lows aren’t just a temporary lull, but rather a symptom of depression. In these cases, it is not something that will simply go away with time or willpower. 

Signs of Depression 
If you sense something is off with your child or teen, be alert for some of the following:

  • Sadness 
  • Crying spells 
  • Severe moodiness/frustration over seemingly trivial things 
  • Hopelessness  
  • Loss of interest/pleasure in activities they once enjoyed
  • Distant from/in conflict with family and friends 
  • Insecurity or guilt
  • Rejection sensitivity
  • Trouble thinking  
  • Low energy 
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Appetite changes
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  •  Making a suicide plan or attempt (Call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or visit 


How to Help 
If you notice some signs, bring your observations to your teens in a loving and non-judgmental way. Let go of any judgment of your teen or yourself - depression lives in our bodies, similar to any medical condition. If your teen had asthma, you wouldn’t blame them or their friends, or wonder if your parenting style had contributed to their health condition. You would focus on gathering information and making changes to support them. Let your child know they are not alone and that there is hope for their mental health to improve. Depending on the severity and urgency of what you observe and what your teen has expressed, you may decide to begin by incorporating lifestyle changes such as more exercise, social connection, and healthy sleep routines. 

While lifestyle changes may help some teens, for a lot of cases of clinical depression, professional help is necessary. For families in the Poudre School District, you can reach out to your child’s school and speak with a counselor, mental health specialist, school psychologist, or school social worker. Often the school counselor is a great point of contact who can help you connect with further resources.  

If you or a loved one is in crisis or considering suicide, call or text 988 or chat at

For someone experiencing a self-defined behavioral health crisis, call Summit Stone Health Partners at 970-494-4200 (ext. 4), located at 1217 Riverside Ave. in Fort Collins.